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04 June 2013 @ 10:00 pm
Arrested Development Season Four  
Seanie and I finished the fourth season of Arrested Development today. Considering I just got off a boat and we were in Yosemite, I'm surprised at how quickly we blasted through the show. It was so hard to resist the urge to simply marathon through it, since each episode was so clearly interconnected with the next. In the end, we just gave into the urge and sat like slugs on the couch, watching episode after episode.

So what do I think? Well...I don't know. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Do I think it is as good as the original series? No. But would I want to watch more? Of course!

It's been six years since the original show went off the air, and so a lot of the series is dedicated to catching viewers up on what happened in the intervening years. After all, the Bluths' lives continued on, whether anyone was watching them or not. Since they're so dysfunctional and crazy, it comes as little surprise that the years have not been kind to the Bluths. But I was disappointed with how the characters had changed.

Most significantly, I was saddened by Michael's evolution. Sure, he was always rather too attached to his son, but he always seemed to have a decent grasp of business and if he was a little strange, he was at least competent. Not anymore. He's sneaky, he's sulky, and he's rather unpleasant. He's pathetic, really – in the first episode, he's living in his son's college dorm and trying to insert himself into George Michael's life at a time when his son really, really needs a chance at independence. This changed role – Michael is now just another member of the looney bin instead of the straight man - was not good for the structure of the show because now there isn't a “normal” person to anchor it. I guess that role falls to George Michael in this season, but he's not in that many episodes so it doesn't quite come together, and overall I think this significantly weakened the new show.

The actors from the show have all moved on to other projects, so it was hard to get them all in one place at the same time. This led to the decision to focus episodes on characters rather than individual storylines. It's an interesting choice – on the one hand, it means that each episode is tied into another, and so you really do have to see most of the season before it all starts making sense. It's quite different than the usual sitcom plot, which finds resolution at the end of twenty-two minutes. But on the other, it means that episodes are more fragmented and, in many cases, the actors aren't working together. They're talking at each other, not having conversations.

The phrase “hot mess” has is grossly overused, but I'm having a hard time thinking of a better way to describe this series. It's entertaining, it's funny, and it's completely enjoyable – but man, is it ever a hot mess.